Kidney transplantation and HIV: Does recipient privacy outweigh the donor's right to information?

Richard N. Formica, William S. Asch, Krystn R. Wagner, Sanjay Kulkarni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background and objectives: There exists an inherent conflict between a kidney donor's right to know key aspects of a recipient's medical history and specific disease, such as HIV, where federal and state statues protect this information. The authors of the live organ donor consensus group expressly stated the principal of a donor's right to recipient information. This information includes the risks and benefits of not only the donation procedure, but also the risks, benefits, and alternative treatment options of the recipient. In this paper, a case will be presented highlighting this conflict and the ethical and legal reasoning used to resolve it. Design, setting, participants, & measurements: A 22-year-old woman came forward as a directed kidney donor for an HIV-positive individual. The donor and recipient were medically appropriate for kidney donation and transplantation. During the donor advocacy panel review, there was disagreement regarding whether or not the potential donor had the right to know about the HIV status of the potential recipient. Results: In living kidney transplantation to HIV-positive individuals, the recipient's right to privacy of information outweighs the donor's right to know. Conclusions: Although protecting the recipient's right to privacy is paramount, the donor is still entitled to consider factors a priori that could alter their decision to donate. This can be accomplished by informing the donor that they are not entitled to protected health information of the recipient and that their decision to donate should be based on knowing the recipient is medically appropriate for kidney transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)924-928
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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